Ola, India’s biggest ride hailing platform, has come up with another plan to help its drivers who have been affected by the Coronavirus. In his latest move against the pandemic, Ola’s CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal has decided to forgo his annual salary, and direct that money to the ‘Drive the Driver Fund’ initiative. under this, Ola will raise Rs 50 crore through crowdfunding to secure steady funds for the auto-rickshaw, cab, kaali-peeli and taxi drivers employed by Ola.
The company has announced to pour in Rs.20 crore of its own money into the fund, including the CEO’s salary. The announcement came in the form of a tweet by Bhavish, which read,”Millions of drivers & their families find themselves without an income today. To support them, we are launching the ‘Drive the Driver’ fund. I’m contributing my next year salary and Ola along with employees will contribute ₹20 cr to the fund.”
The move is expected to help fleet of 20 lakh driver partners globally. Seeing that travel has taken the worst hit during the outbreak of the virus, drivers of the platform have been forced to sit at home, without any compensation as the company does not recognise them as employees. This move will direct some cash to those affected by the virus and help reduce the pressure on these drivers.
This comes after Ola had announced a coverage package for driver partners earlier. However, the package earlier only covered those drivers and their spouses who either tested positive for coronavirus or were asked to be under quarantine. We had raised this point, that considering the financial situation of India’s unicorn startups, they should be doing much more. With this new tangible, quantitative financial package, Ola is finally doing something for all of its driver partners, rather than just the affected once.
“The crisis at this time has left thousands of drivers who form the backbone of shared mobility without an income. The Ola group has come together to contribute the initial capital for the fund, which can be used to provide immediate aid,” said Anand Subramanian, Spokesperson and Head of Communications, Ola told a news agency.
The capital will be used in a multitude of ways, including emergency support, essential services, healthcare and medical consultation, and aid for children’s education.
Before this announcement, the company had offered other methods of reliefs for its drivers, including waving the Rs. 5,200 per month fee that it charges its drivers who lease their vehicles from the company itself. Certain insurance and medical benefits to its drivers who have been either directly infected by coronavirus or their spouses are infected, including a cover of upto 14 days of their average earning, which drivers can get reimbursed upon submission of relevant documents.
Ola is also seeking some level of government intervention to help driver partners working with these ride-hailing companies. The company is seeking easy, short-term interest-free loans for its drivers, as well as a 6 month period of relaxation from paying certain taxes. Along with this, the company is also asking for a 12 month “holiday” on car loan repayments, to ease the current pressure on drivers, and also to set up a fund for those who have lost their daily income.